The video installation Liquidity Inc. relies on a wave-like structure clad in blue mats, not unlike those used in martial arts studios, surrounded by similarly hued walls, to tell the story of financial advisor Jacob Wood. Born in Vietnam, where he became a war orphan, Wood emigrated to the U.S. under President Gerald Ford’s Operation Babylift, lost his job during the 2008 financial crisis and then embarked on a career in mixed martial arts. Water plays a central role in this peculiar story where, in a particularly intense interview, Bruce Lee describes how one must “become water” to be successful in martial arts.
In the video, Steyerl examines how water illustrates the relationship between individuals and capital, and connects abstract financial jargon with concrete meteorological manifestations. “Liquidity,” in its market form, is also a means of adapting – to new economic circumstances, weather patterns or political climates. In Bruce Lee’s words: “Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” References, from Hokusai to Wilhelm Reich by way of the Weather Underground, populate the video, underscoring the ideological and aesthetic flexibility of the metaphor throughout history. The title takes on an added meaning: corporatization meets corporality and a state of being becomes commodity.